Easter 2 – April 11th 2021
HRH Prince Philip – Duke of Edinburgh
Acts 4:32-35, 1John 1:1-2:2, John 20:19-end
Sarah and I are avid viewers of the ‘Line of Duty’ series on BBC1 and going by the record viewing figures for the recently released series 6 of over 9:5 million, plenty of others are as well. The script by Jed Mercurio, takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride of possible outcomes to the evidence and testimony of numerous witnesses. The death of George Floyd during a police arrest in the US last May, sparked worldwide protests, the officer accused of his murder is now on trial with the evidence presented being shared on a global news network. Fact or fiction, it appears that our interest in hearing the testimony of others regarding key events retains its fascination.
All of our readings speak of the power of personal testimony and the way in which it can influence our behaviour and our beliefs. We are all here because someone, somewhere, sometime took the trouble to share what they knew and had experienced of the love of God to us. Jesus himself calls us directly into this. ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you’. John in his letter tells us that the first disciples shared what they had heard and seen for themselves. No fiction but a first-hand account by contemporary witnesses.
We can be witnesses in many different ways. There will be times when we need to speak up and tell of what we know and on other occasions it’s what we do and how we are that speaks even louder than what we say. ‘To walk the walk’ is a crucial quality if we are to be considered seriously, live our lives with integrity and create a legacy.
On this day when we are remembering the life of HRH Prince Philip, I give you the words of our Archbishop of Canterbury who wrote on Friday of the nature of Prince Philip’s witness.
‘On the occasions when I met him, I was always struck by his obvious joy at life, his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life. He was a master at putting people at their ease and making them feel special.
The legacy he leaves is enormous. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which he founded in 1956 has inspired generations of young people to help their communities. His work with countless charities and organisations reflected his wide-ranging, global interests in topics including wildlife, sport, design, engineering and interfaith dialogue.
In his powerful advocacy for conservation his was a prophetic voice for over half a century as he brought people from around the world to a new concern and commitment to action for the future of our planet.
As we recover and rebuild after the terrible trial of the coronavirus pandemic, we will need fortitude and a deep sense of commitment to serving others. Throughout his life Prince Philip displayed those qualities in abundance and I pray that we can take inspiration from his example.
I also join many people in giving thanks for the marriage of Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip and for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Theirs was a marriage grounded in friendship and mutual respect and sustained by a shared faith in Jesus Christ.
I pray that God will comfort Her Majesty and the rest of the Royal family at this time. May His Royal Highness rest in peace and rise in glory.’
Eternal God, our heavenly Father, we bless your holy name for all that you have given us in and through the life of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. We give you thanks: for his long and full life; for his strength of character; and for his devotion and service to family, nation and Commonwealth. We praise you for: his generosity; the many contributions he made to our national life; and the encouragement he gave to so many, especially to the young.